The Philadelphia Phillies took control of the NLDS with a convincing Game 3 victory, and now they’ll look to close the door on the mighty Atlanta Braves at home.
Ranger Suárez had the magic touch in Atlanta to open the series, but will his struggles at home persist? Can Spencer Strider navigate this Phillies lineup a bit better this time around?
Let’s answer those questions as I reveal my game prediction and best bets for Game 4 of the NLDS between Atlanta and Philadelphia.
Braves vs Phillies Game 3 Prediction
Braves 2, Phillies 3
Strider was excellent in Game 1. He allowed just one solo homer and an additional unearned run, striking out eight over seven frames with seven batters reaching base.
It was a far cry from his disastrous start in Game 3 of the NLDS last season, and it was more than good enough to earn him and his team a much-needed victory to open this series.
Against Philly this season, Strider was excellent, and he was decidedly better on the road compared to at home.
Suárez, too, has delivered two solid outings versus the Braves, though he shares the same home-road splits as Strider, which would work against him on Thursday in theory.
I think Suárez is surprisingly well-equipped to face the Braves and can keep Atlanta at bay as he did earlier in the series.
Philly’s offense has been humming and should find the runs it needs to sneak by Atlanta in four.
Braves vs Phillies Game 3 Best Bet
Phillies Moneyline (+130) vs Braves
DraftKings Sportsbook • WAGER: 1 Unit
As we saw on Wednesday, the Phillies can stun you with the longball.
It seemed Bryce Elder had things under control until a solo shot from Nick Castellanos in the third began a runaway train that resulted in six round-trippers.
Philly was just outside the top five in baseball when it came to isolated power, and Strider has had serious issues allowing homers to opponents, ranking inside the bottom 20 of the league in that regard.
While Strider more than makes up for that with his league-leading 36.8% strikeout rate, the fact remains that he has lost numerous games this season because of an influx of homers, even if most or all of them are of the solo variety.
We saw how a home run-prone pitcher can cost a team on Wednesday night when Lance Lynn surrendered four solo shots in a 4-2 loss, and the Phillies may sneak a couple out of the park considering they’ve managed to do so the last two times they’ve seen him.
Suárez has varied his deliveries to the Braves more than any other team this season, and his deep bag of tricks should continue to stifle a team that has not been able to touch him in two starts across the regular and postseason.
His changeup has been of particular use against a team that has struggled against the pitch, and his sinker has kept the ball out of the air against the league-leaders in elevating and celebrating.
Much like we saw on Wednesday with L.A., it’s not always a good idea to back the overwhelming public narrative.
We just had the opportunity to witness how much this Braves lineup struggles against the crafty Suárez, and we’ve also seen Philadelphia hit the ball a heck of a lot better than Atlanta through three games.
Back the Phillies to close it out in our MLB Play of the Day.
Braves vs Phillies Game 3 Props
Ranger Suárez Over 3.5 Strikeouts (+115)
DraftKings Sportsbook • WAGER: 1 Unit
I dare oddsmakers: Keep feeding me these short lines on Suárez.
While the left-hander has not been much of a strikeout pitcher over the course of his career, he did manage to strike out 22% of batters this year, which put him right around the league average.
Most impressively, he sat down seven Braves over six frames the only time he met them in the regular season, and he turned right around to strike out four over 3.2 innings earlier in the series.
Suárez was pulled from that game in the fourth, but to that point, he had allowed just two runners and thrown 53 pitches.
That was how the game was scripted by the Phillies, but he might have been taken out of that game with the intention of using him for a bit longer in Game 4.
The Phillies felt comfortable with a lead at that point, and skipper Rob Thomson likely didn’t want the Braves’ hitters to see Suárez a third time through the order, which would have helped them get a better read on him for this start.
Should Suárez cruise, he won’t get hooked quickly. That’s especially true given the fact that this bullpen blew Game 2.
Kyle Schwarber Hits Home Run (+310)
FanDuel Sportsbook • WAGER: 0.5 Units
I think the price on Kyle Schwarber to homer has drifted out far enough for us to take it.
While the slugger hasn’t looked like his best in this series, he did have some better at-bats towards the end of Game 3 and just missed an extra-base hit in the sixth.
A big reason to believe in Schwarber here is his history against Strider, which includes a home run in 22 at-bats.
He is a .227 lifetime hitter versus Strider, which is the third-best mark on the team, and his .507 xSLG is the best in the lineup.
Strider will likely allow a homer, and this is the bat I land on. While Bryce Harper also has excellent numbers versus Strider, there’s little value left in backing him yet again with oddsmakers responding to his strong series. This is where the value is.